BBen MN9 Intel PC Stick Review

Specifications (as reviewed): Intel X5-Z8350 / 64 GB Rom / 4 GB Ram

Hey, Dreki here and today I’m reviewing the Bben MN9 stick pc. I’ve seen these things floating around on Amazon and Ali Express for a while now and always wondered whether or not they were any good. Well, it really depends what you want to use it for. I just wanted something that could play Netflix in 1080p, browse the web and occasionally run Photoshop when I needed to edit a single image, and for that it works great, but it’s worth noting right away that the processor in this thing is not capable of doing much heavy multitasking or running programs that take up a lot of processor power, especially games.

Design and Packaging

The package this stick comes in is rather flimsy, and I’m surprised it survived international shipping. The box only includes 3 components: the computer itself, a power cable and an HDMI extension lead. Looking at the stick itself, there’s the HDMI out port, the power port on one side and the micro SD and USB ports on the other. The top has the power button and the bottom has grilles for heat dissipation. The case is covered in some soft touch rubber that scratches rather easily. Nothing about this screams quality but it’s not terrible either.

Performance and Setup

Setting it up was super easy – plug it in to HDMI and power, plug in the receiver for my wireless keyboard mouse combo and then turn it on. Startup is quick, faster than my projector can turn on, so I hardly even noticed it. The stick immediately found my Wi-Fi network, I connected my Bluetooth stereo, and then I started installing apps. For day to day operations everything is just a little bit on the slow side especially when it comes to multitasking, but it’s not unbearable. I’m coming from a midrange gaming PC where everything is fast and snappy but if you’re used to fairly low end computers from the last few years things like browsing the web, installing programs and loading documents will not be much different. Where I noticed the slowness the most was on content rich pages: for example the thumbnails on Netflix took their sweet time. I wouldn’t expect this computer to be able to handle 4K video, but it did fine for 4K playback when the file was on the computer itself but I can’t say the same about 4K streaming. Sites like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter all run fine too. Even Photoshop CS5 ran alright for quick photo editing. For the most part the computer is alright – I’d call it fine but not fast. If you run any benchmarks though the results are really, really low.

Gaming

Now, the one thing that this computer doesn’t do at all is gaming. And I mean like, at all. I installed steam just to humour myself but uh. Yeah. Yeah… It wasn’t worth the storage space it took up. Basic flash games in browser run fine most of the time and so does solitaire but anything more than that and the stick just bogs down. I even tried to emulate Playstation 1, which even cheap Andriod boxes can usually do, and while it worked it did skip frames and jitter a little too much for my tastes. If you want to play games, this is not the device to buy.

Other Notes

The one biggest concern I have with this computer is about the heat it makes. One of the reasons I bought this stick over the others on the market is it advertised having a built in fan, but that’s only half true. The fan is kind of like a case fan more than an actual processor heat sink, meaning it does suck some hot air out of the case but it doesn’t do much more than that. The computer idled at 65 Celsius and I was able to push it to 85 when running benchmarks and difficult tasks. This processor is able to handle up to 90. I never got it to shut off due to thermal overload, but I do suspect that if I had it in the sun on my desk it wouldn’t do so well. After running it for a few hours watching TV, the case is noticeably warm, but not uncomfortably hot. Because the heat dissipation is fairly poor, the device is quick to throttle itself down under stress, which I think has the biggest effect on performance. For example the Playstation games ran fine for the first minute or two, but once the temperature started going up due to processor stress, the game started skipping.

Conclusion

Once the novelty of having a full windows pc in a stick wears off, you’re left with an overall slow but serviceable pc. It’s more or less what I’d expect from hardware at this price point so I can’t exactly fault it. The thing does run Netflix and Youtube at 1080p fine after all, and that’s primarily what I bought it for. In my case I didn’t want to have my giant gaming PC with its noisy fans running whenever I just wanted to stream some TV so I decided to buy something cheap to smarten up my dumb projector. I couldn’t stand the Android TV boxes so this was the next best thing. It’s otherwise hard to think of a specific case where I’d recommend a PC in this form factor over something like a tablet or a full size desktop because it’s stuck somewhere in the middle ground where it doesn’t really do either fantastically. It’s not so slow that I find myself annoyed with it, but there is a noticeable speed difference between this and something a little bit higher end.


Generic Surface Pro 2 Charger Review


Conclusion:

This product is sold under several different brand names including Egoway, Zodiac, Runpower etc. For a generic charger it does fine, with about the same charge speed as the original cable. The ends fit together fine. The cable is almost identical to the original, in build quality and design which is both a good and a bad thing. The good part is that it has a USB port built into it so I can charge my phone at the same time as my computer. The bad part is that the parts connecting the cable to the power brick are of poor design. I also notice that it gets much warmer than the original cable. Since the build quality is about the same as the original cable, if you’re looking for something that will last a little bit longer maybe look elsewhere, or go onto Youtube and look for tutorials that describe how to toughen up cables with some heat shrink. It’ll be a decent replacement if you treat it nice, but try and find something a little higher quality if you are the type to throw around your cables a lot.


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Huion H610 Graphics Tablet Review

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Rating: 4/5


What I Like: 

  • Accurate pen strokes
  • Great pen pressure
  • Feels similar to a Wacom Intuos Pro in texture
  • Pen takes standard AAA batteries
  • Cable is user replaceable

What I Don’t Like:

  • Surface of my tablet wasn’t entirely flat
  • Difficult to install drivers correctly

Conclusion:  I’ve drawn with a half dozen graphics tablets and I can say the Huion H610 is among the better I’ve used. The pen pressure works great, with decent weight variation. The tablet has a modestly rough texture to it, not exactly like drawing on paper but not smooth either. It reminds me of drawing on my old Wacom Intuos 2 in terms of handling – and that’s a good thing. The only parts that were difficult was the driver install. To get pen pressure working in Photoshop I needed to uninstall all the tablet drivers already on my computer. As well, my copy of this tablet isn’t entirely flat and if placed on a table it wobbles. That being said, I tend to hold my tablet in my hands, so for me this isn’t a big deal, but for those who draw on a flat table it might be a concern. Overall, 4/5 because it feels great to draw on, but doesn’t sit exactly flat.


Where to Buy

Huion H610 Tablet:
Amazon U.S.A. | Amazon Canada
Price at time of review: $59.99




1byone Bluetooth Keyboard with Touchpad Review

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Rating: 4/5


What I Like: 

  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent keyboard feel, with springy key response
  • Properly positioned and sized right-shift key
  • Smooth trackpad feel and good button response
  • Supports multi-touch gestures for scroll and zoom
  • Trackpad is located to the right of the keyboard

What I Don’t Like:

  • Trackpad is occasionally jittery
  • ESC key requires hitting FN before use
  • Some shortcut key combos don’t work
  • Metallic back picks up a ton of fingerprints

Summary:  This keyboard is one of the better feeling (non-mechanical) keyboards I own, with fast and accurate key response. It is similar to a high end laptop keyboard, with a slightly smaller than average key layout and springy feedback. I can type significantly faster with this keyboard then I can with the other wireless keyboards I own due to the response of the keys. The built-in trackpad feels similar quality, but it isn’t as responsive to touch as I’d like. I find that occasionally it lags and jitters, causing it to sense one finger as two or causing the mouse to jump across the screen. Other than the occasional delay, this keyboard and mouse combo works quite well, and is a nice accessory for Bluetooth enabled android TV boxes, desktop computers and most smartphones.


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UGreen HDMI Switch Review

ugreen-hdmi-switch-review

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Rating: 4.5/5


What I Like: 

  • Adds an additional 2 HDMI ports to any device
  • Will only switch to HDMI ports that are active
  • As easy as push-to-change source
  • Included remote works to change source
  • Only a short delay when changing sources
  • Powered by a TV USB port

What I Don’t Like:

  • Set up was a bit odd, if things are not done in the right order then the switch will not work
  • Will require an additional HDMI cable (not included) and a USB power source (not included)

Conclusion:  My DLP Projector did not have enough HDMI ports to support my devices and a switcher was the solution. Now I do not have to constantly unplug and fiddle with wires to get my PC, game system or computer connected to my projector. Switching sources is as easy as pushing a button on the device itself or using the remote. I personally like that it is a manual process, as a previous switch I purchased was automatic and had some issues detecting incoming HDMI feeds. This switch works flawlessly and takes about a second to switch sources. There is no issue receiving audio/video signals (I have tested up to 1080p since that is what my display uses) and the switcher does not seem to cause any delay or processing artifacts. The set up stumped me for a few moments, as at first it seemed the device wouldn’t work, but everything needed to be connected in the correct order (IR remote, power, then HDMI sources). Once that happened the switch began receiving signals and working fine. I currently have the HDMI switch connected to my projectors USB port and that provides enough power. Although the switch lights up without being connected to USB power, I haven’t gotten it working unless it was plugged in. This means that it will be necessary to power it with a TV USB port or an external power brick, which is not included. Overall I’m happy with this switch. The build quality seems good and it does what it advertises but note before buying


Where to Buy

UGreen HDMI Switch:
Amazon U.S.A. | Amazon Canada
Price at time of review: $13.99